BBC’s revamped Red Button service debuts on Virgin Media TiVo

The BBC has relaunched its interactive services, under what the broadcaster calls the Connected Red Button, with the updated service going live on Virgin Media’s TiVo PVR before a more widespread roll ou tin the coming months.

Accessed in the usual way, by pressing the red button on any BBC TV channel, the redesigned menu brings together the BBC’s TV and radio iPlayer content along with tabs for news, sport and weather information.

On TiVo the new Red Button feature provides quicker and slicker short-cuts to popular iPlayer programmes for the channel you’ve launched the service from (even for channels that aren’t on-air all of the time, such as BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC and CBeebies). Alternatively you can choose another menu option to hop over to the full iPlayer for any available TV or radio programmes.

The sports section has been revised with more video streams, clips and content from major events, while the news and customisable weather options look rather like a tablet app or phone widget, except that they are optimised for a ‘lean-back’ TV experience.

There are currently about 1.2 million Virgin Media homes with TiVo set-top boxes, which until now lacked the news and weather aspects of BBC Red Button content. It builds on the iPlayer and BBC Sport apps for TiVo that appeared in 2011. Catch-up TV from the BBC and other main broadcasters has been part of the Virgin Media network for several years.

As well as changing the Red Button service on other net-connected platforms, such as smart TVs, the BBC says new functionality and features will be added over time.

According to the Corporation’s figures, the existing Red Button service attracts about 20 million users a month. During the 2012 Olympic Games, a total of 24.2 million viewers picked from up to 24 live streams that the broadcaster made available.

The new service is aimed at the latest and future generations of TVs and set-top boxes that have an internet connection. On the BBC Internet Blog, Matt Coulson, Executive Product Manager, writes that the “Connected Red Button is a long term strategic product, it in no way signals the demise of traditional BBC Red Button.”

He adds, “Throughout 2012 the BBC has also been engaging with a number of TV manufacturers and platform operators regarding our connected TV application plans and the related technical specifications and certification requirements.”

Daniel Danker, General Manager, BBC Programmes and On-Demand, said that, “With today’s launch of BBC Connected Red Button, the BBC is seamlessly bringing the internet together with live TV, while making the technology completely invisible. This is Red Button reinvented, and the beginning of the exciting future of television.”

If you have had a look at the new Red Button service on TiVo, tell us what you think on our Twitter and Facebook feeds or via the comments boxes below.

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